• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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Daily new COVID-19 cases hit record highs in 18 of Japan’s 47 prefectures on Tuesday, showing a surge in infections across the country.

Gifu reported a record 324 new cases, more than double its previous high marked on May 14. In Aichi, the daily tally came to 967, topping 900 for the first time.

New cases also hit record highs in Osaka, at 1,856, and in Hyogo, at 853. Across the country, 19,954 new cases were confirmed.

In Okinawa, a cluster of infections was reported at a hospital in Uruma where 199 infection cases and 64 deaths have been confirmed.

The number of patients with severe symptoms across Japan rose by 43 from Monday to 1,646, hitting a record high for the fifth straight day.

Forty-seven new deaths were confirmed across the country. In Tokyo, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 40s died of COVID-19 at home.

In the capital, 4,377 new cases were reported, a record for any Tuesday and up by 1,765 from a week before.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients in Tokyo, measured by the metropolitan government’s criteria, rose by eight from the previous day to 276, marking a record high for the eighth straight day.

The seven-day average of daily new infection cases in Tokyo rose 13.8% from a week before to 4,527.1.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s coronavirus response, said Tuesday that the expansion and extension through Sept. 12 of the current state of emergency are needed to curb the number of new cases and to “ensure and strengthen medical care in each area.”

The move comes with the highly contagious delta variant running rampant across the nation. The number of COVID-19 patients with serious symptoms hit 1,646 nationwide as of Monday, marking a record high for the fifth straight day, the health ministry said.

On Monday, 14,854 new cases were confirmed across Japan, with the daily tally topping 10,000 for 14 days in a row.

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